Pop Scene:
Auto-Tune at its Best... and Worst 

Hey, it's Pop Scene! Our monthly feature in which Mike Conklin and Ben Sutton climb out from under their indie-rockist, um, rock, to find out what regular people all over the country are listening to. This installment features selections from the iTunes music store.

You may have noticed that Pop Scene has been missing since late last year. This is not because we've reverted even deeper into our indie-ish ways, listening to the Joanna Newsom record over and over again. No, it's because charting the likes and dislikes of the rest of the country is not very exciting when the likes and dislikes of the rest of the country never fucking change. Seriously, those guys have been listening to "Imma Be" and "Tik Tok" for months, and it's messing with our shit over here like you would not believe.

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Title: According To You
Artist: Orianthi
Mike: 25-year-old Australian Orianthi Panargis was to be Michael Jackson's lead guitarist for the series of 50 London concerts he was planning before his death, and it's not hard to see why, as she shreds in the dopiest 80s way you could possibly imagine—finger-tapping and all. She would have killed on "Dirty Diana," basically. And she does on her own material too, I guess. It's classic over-driven pop-rock in the same vein as Kelly Clarkson, about finding a dude who accepts her, even with her many flaws, identified by some other dude as being stupid, useless, indecisive, boring, moody and shitty at telling jokes.

Ben: I'm glad to see more of Orianthi, who was so incredibly charismatic in that scene in This Is It, but why does this track's decent music video—which follows her progression from bedroom jam sessions through house parties to stadium shows and back—insist upon doing that annoying Guitar Hero thing where the neck of the guitar is always in the shot, like the camera is mounted on guitars even when it's in the arena audience? This makes no sense! I also miss the Aussie twang in her voice, which might have helped set the generic lyrics apart from the likes of Clarkson and others. Finally, who the fuck is this loser who thinks he can't take her any place?! Doesn't he know that dating hot rock stars means you can go every place?

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Title: If We Ever Meet Again
Artist: Timbaland feat. Katy Perry
Mike: As one of the elder statesmen of hip-hop production, didn't Timbaland owe it to himself, and us, to have refrained from jumping on the auto-tune bandwagon in the first place, let alone continuing to ride it even now, after it's become a bigger joke than ever? No? Hrmph. Then doesn't he, at the very least, owe it to himself, and us, to have good enough taste in shit that he would refrain from working with Katy Perry, who does neither his beats nor his credibility as anything but a very, very rich dude any good? No? Ok then. Nevermind.

Ben: In an interview with MTV, Timbaland explained that he made this track as imitation Black Eyed Peas: "I gotta do me a 'I Gotta Feeling' record," he remembered thinking. I gotta say, though, that if Timbo's music has devolved to the point that he's making poor facsimiles of will.i.am songs, maybe he should pack it in already. The title of the abysmal record this track comes from, Shock Value II, says it all: Something that was gripping and exciting the first time around, when repeated (or poorly copied), loses all its vitality. Timbaland is dead to me now.

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Title: Reverse Cowgirl
Artist: T-Pain feat. Young Jeezy
Mike: So T-Pain is quite fond of the reverse cowgirl position, which is certainly fair enough. He also likes when the woman raises her hands in the air, waves 'em around and says, in a pitch-corrected voice apparently, "Oooh!" Jeezy's verse sucks as hard as all Jeezy's verses, but it's even more annoying than usual because all it does is interrupt what is actually one of the more impressively textured and swirling tracks of the auto-tune era, with multi-tracked vocals used to create a really enjoyable, almost glorious wall-of-sound effect.

Ben: We've often talked about how hip-hop artists somehow get away with all kinds of misogynistic lyrics that would be unthinkable in other musical genres—or, you know, in life—but I think that under-appreciated modern genius T-Pizzle has found a solution in this S&M anthem. Because he's not auto-crooning about just any kind of reverse cowgirl, Mike, we're talking ropes, straps, role-play and safety words ("yee-haw," I believe): "Baby let me rope you up/tie you down/do it right/no matter how hard you buck." The solution isn't to tone it down, but to take it further. Well played, T-Pain.

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